Thursday, May 31, 2007

Is Live and Let Live Enough?

A debate has been raging in The Times (London, of course) between believers in God and atheists, in the wake an article by Professor Richard Dawkins, defending his book "The God Delusion" see http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article1779771.ece. It was followed up by an interview of him, counter articles by other columnists and of course, reader talkback.

Much of the reader debate has not centered on proving or disproving God's existence. Both sides seem to admit that it cannot be done. Rather, much of the debate has centered on why either side feels the need to promote their views to others. Why can't we all live and let live. The believers feel the need to save others, while the atheists feel the need to reveal the folly and even danger of the believers.

I must say that I have sympathy for both arguments. On numerous occasions I have been accosted by Christian missionaries wanting me to see the light and be granted a place in the Kingdom of Heaven. Annoyingly, they have even prayed in front of me to the Nazarene, that I accept him into my heart. I don't like it when I see Jewish kiruv workers doing similar things.

And yet, I believe I have something precious in my faith, which I would like my fellow Jews to feel. While, I think "saving" a person has more to do with being moral than religious, I still cannot help to want to teach the beauty of Judaism and yet, I do not want to impose my views on others.

Can a religious Jew really accept the doctrine of live and let live?

I believe that the answer is yes and no. We must be involved in the world and we must work hard to make it a better place; but not because we are right and because others are wrong. Not because we have the truth and because the others must be saved from falsehood.

We must interact because we all have so much to learn from one another. We must interact with respect, with an openness and as equals.

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